Memoir writers often email us to ask how to go the “traditional” route in getting their book published. This is what we tell them:
Many writers hope that a traditional publisher will pick up their memoirs for publication. The major advantage in going that route is that the publisher will do all of the distribution and promotion. You could be sent on a national book tour, and the publisher can easily get your book into bookstores and libraries. You might even be offered an advance—a sum of money before you’ve finished your work that gives you the freedom to take the time to write your memoir. And if the publisher is interested in your story but you cannot write it yourself, you could be assigned a professional writer to work with you. The other advantage is that once you’ve been published by a traditional publisher, it’s easier to get a second book picked up similarly.
The downside of publishing with a traditional publisher is that after the expense of the promotion, distribution and the publisher’s profit, there’s not that much left for you. Your share of the royalties from sales of the book is usually pretty low, so unless your book becomes a best-seller you will not earn much money in the long run.
But all of that is typically beside the point for an unknown first-time author, because it’s nearly impossible to make the traditional route happen. First you need to find an agent who believes in your book enough to represent you and pitch it to publishers. Just getting an agent is very difficult. Your writing must be of professional quality, your story must be unique and compelling and sometimes you need an introduction to get an agent to read it in the first place. If your story is newsworthy and you’ve been covered by the national press, or even your local press, the publisher may come to you with an offer to publish your book. If not, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get a traditional publisher to publish it.
Self-publishing is so affordable and quick. I believe that today the easier method is to self-publish, establish a website to promote your book, take it around to some bookstores, and then if your book sells pretty well a publisher may take notice of it and offer to publish a second edition to really get it out there. Meanwhile, you’ll keep all the profits. At Write My Memoirs, we do not have any contacts with agents or publishers. But we can help you to self-publish. Please let us know if you decide to self-publish, and we’ll get started on it.